Police Scotland set for record retirements, Tories claim
Scottish Conservatives claim the force could lose 650 personnel by the end of 2018/19.
Police Scotland is set to have a record-breaking year for retirements, according to Scottish Conservatives.
Information gathered by the party shows 325 officers left the force between April and September.
If that trend continues, the Tories say the force will have lost 650 personnel by the end of 2018/19.
The greatest number to leave the new national police force was in 2014/15 when 613 retired.
Scottish Conservative legal affairs spokesman Gordon Lindhurst said: "This isn't just a large number - with those hundreds of departures will go decades of knowledge and experience.
"That's a priceless commodity for a police force which is finding itself under increasing pressure. "The SNP government needs to ensure that Police Scotland is not significantly damaged by this loss, and that policing is fit for the challenges we face."
The party's Freedom of Information request data shows 561 left the force last year. It also revealed other Police Scotland staff are likely to leave in record numbers.
Up to September 30, there were 73 retirements, which the Tories say will reach 146 by the end of the year if trends continue.
In the past five years, 2,631 police officers have retired from duty in Scotland, along with 419 other staff.
Figures show that there currently is 17,147 police officers employed in Scotland.
In March 2018, there were around 32 officers per 10,000 population in Scotland, compared to around 21 officers per 10,000 population in England and Wales.
A spokesman for Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "We will take no lectures from the Tories on this issue.
"It is the SNP which has delivered record numbers of police officers, and overall force strength remains high, with more than 900 more officers compared to 2007. "
He added: We expect officer numbers to remain significantly above the level we inherited."